The Rise And Rise Of Nadi Canning

The dream run of results in 2016 has continued for Cudgen Headland’s Nadi Canning with success over the short course of the Coolangatta Gold adding to her exceptional medal haul of 25 across major championships for the popular and well respected club member but as Andrea Malm discovers Canning is no overnight sensation.

It’s hard to believe that Nadi Canning has only been involved in Surf Life Saving for a little over a decade as she glides through the waves like a season profession as well as juggling the demands of being a doctor in her local community.

Despite beginning her surf lifesaving journey later than most she has managed to make a huge impact in the time she has been involved at Cudgen Headland. Originally a pool swimmer she traded black lines for the joys of the waves after a friend from swimming encouraged her to join. After obtaining her bronze and beginning training, Nadi has never looked back.

Her achievements on paper make for impressive reading. In 2015/16 she won 15 Medals at the NSW Country Championships in South West Rocks, 5 gold medals at the State Championships, a further five at The Aussies, and was a finalist for the 2016 NSW Surf Sports Athlete of the Year.

The 31-year-old considers all her achievements special but that winning the open elite female short course at the Coolangatta Gold recent and a previous bronze medal in the open women’s belt race at the Aussies were highlights.

A true team member she says that the best times best memories have come from trips away with her club mates to the various state, Aussies and Interbranch over the years.

She could be forgiven for taking a moment to bask in the reflection of these outstanding achievements, but Nadi has never forgotten how much effort went in at training to making it all possible.

“I never did nippers so there were a lot of surf skills I have had to try to catch up on to get where I am now. It's been tough at times, but definitely worth it,” she said.

She admits to still struggling with stress and nerves at times before races, but is confident that training alongside the club’s male athletes holds her in good stead when it comes to competition.

“Scott McCartney and all the boys at Cudgen are so good to me. They make training and racing fun and I think that is so important.”

Although the boys at the club may be hard to keep up with at training sometimes, they always manage to bring out the best in her and are always so encouraging and supportive of everything she does both in the life and in surf, and is very appreciative of their support.

Over the years Nadi has become a role model to many at the club, particularly the younger girls, and she is held in high regard by everyone she comes into contact with.

Sarah Wilson, 16, a fellow Cudgen and aspiring athlete, is just one of many who look ups up to Nadi.

“Nadi is my role model and idol. She is like an older sister that is always there for me, and she supports me like I’m her little sister. She always has amazing advice for me,” Miss Wilson enthused.

Sarah also spoke about how Nadi contributes so much life to training and how it’s noticeably different when she isn’t able to be there due to her many commitments.

“She makes it so entertaining and every day is helping me to improve and be the best that I can be. Each word she says is so inspirational and I don’t know what my life would be like without her. She has influenced me in such a positive way and I am so happy to have met her.”

“Everyone at Cudgen looks up to her because of the incredible and inspiring person that she is.” Sarah described Nadi as inspirational and amazing.

“I look up to her each and every day,” she said.

The respect between Nadi and the athletes is mutual with Nadi having faith in the young girls currently coming through the Cudgen Family. She believes that is one of the club’s greatest strength and is putting them into an excellent position for the future.

“We have so many young and talented girls making their way through the age ranks. They all know me well and I love them all! They are all so beautiful and so supportive of what I do, they are always so happy to see me and that makes me happy in return.”

“I feel so blessed that I can be a role model for them – both in sport and in life – and show them that hard work and dedication does pay off. But also be there for them for guidance and reassurance if they need it.”

She also expanded on why she thinks Surf Life Saving is such a positive experience for young women to become involved with.

“It gives them self-confidence, strength, discipline, teaches them first aid and rescue skills, communication and time management, it gives them great groups of friends and gives them goals in life. At the end of the day, these are the best things that you could want,” she said.

Fri 4 Nov 2016